What is a child Contact Order?
A child Contact Order enforces the person with who the child resides (the primary carer) to allow contact with someone else (a secondary carer). The Court will consider whether the child should have regular contact with the other party to enable a continued relationship to exist between them.
An Order can be made to give children the right to see both of their parents. The amount of contact and the arrangements made should take into account the situation immediately before the Order. For example, if the father was previously very active in the child’s life before a Contact Order is made, then they are likely to have more contact with the child than if they haven’t been involved at all in their child’s upbringing.
Contact Orders make it a legal obligation that the primary carer allows either direct (visits, overnight stays etc.) or indirect (telephone, letters etc.) contact with a secondary carer. The Court will decide on whether direct or indirect contact is appropriate.
How old does the child have to be for a child Contact Order to be made?
A child Contact Order cannot be made in respect of children over 18 years old. Any child Contact Order made will apply until the child turns 16 years old.
Who can apply for a child Contact Order?
In all Contact matters those able to apply are the child’s parents or step-parents, those with Parental Responsibility and the child’s Grandparents.
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Why do I need to apply for a Contact Order?
If you cannot agree arrangements about matters concerning children when a relationship comes to an end, either parent can apply to the Court for a Contact Order.
What are the types of Contact?
- Indirect Contact – may consist of letters, emails and telephone calls. This may be ordered if, for example, a parent is in prison, lives far away from the Child or to help assist in re-establishing a relationship after a lengthy period where no contact has taken place, before moving on to direct contact.
- Direct Contact – involves face to face meetings. Occasionally, Direct Contact can be supervised by Social Services.
Specific arrangements including the time and date of contact can be set out in the Order. These arrangements can be flexible and unsupervised.
Failing to comply with an Order amounts to a breach and could result to imprisonment or fine.
What is the difference between a Child Contact Order and Residence Order?
There are various Orders individuals can apply to the Courts for, including;
A Residence Order – states where a child should reside. The Court can make such an Order in favour of more than one person, stipulating how long the child should spend with each parent. (Click here for more information on Residence Orders)
A child Contact Order – regulates telephone calls, visits, night stopovers, weekends or holidays with the absent parent.
A Prohibited Steps Order – this is called into play when one parent objects to something that the other parent is doing concerning their child
Specific Issue Order – the Courts can consider a Specific Issue Order is parents are unable to agree on a specific aspect of their child’s upbringing.
In all cases the Order must be applied for and granted by the Courts.
What can we do to help?
Court should be a last resort. We can provide mediation which can be a good starting point to resolve matters. The process is informal and confidential, and often quicker and cheaper than Court proceedings.
Contact our Children Law team on firstname.lastname@example.org or contact your nearest Ringrose Law Office.Contact Children Department